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A Look at Hydroelectric Generation in British Columbia

By Jason on June 9, 2017

Hydroelectric facilities harness the power of moving or falling water to produce mechanical and/or electrical energy. It is a carbon-free method of generating electricity and contributes over 90 percent of total electricity generation in British Columbia.

As a province, British Columbia has favourable geography for hydroelectric development. This technology thrives in mountainous regions with rivers and heavy rainfall that are not too far from industrial centers. As a result, there is over 43 gigawatt hour (GWh) annually in hydroelectricity from publicly owned BC Hydro alone, located primarily in the Peace, Columbia and Coastal regions. That is equivalent to 43,000,000 kilowatt hours (KWh), which could power a 60 KWh Tesla car battery for over 1,900,000 kilometers (1,180,605 miles)!

In the recent years, British Columbia has been making a strong push towards furthering their hydroelectric infrastructures. In 2015, publicly owned BC Hydro signed a pact promising co-operative hunts to build new private power projects; these projects will contribute towards the goal of achieving 100 percent renewable, while also promoting economic growth through exports to the United States and Alberta. A study in April 2016 concluded that Alberta would benefit from this arrangement by allowing hydroelectric power to meet oil sands electricity demands. This would in turn reduce overall oil sands greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 13 to 16 percent.

British Columbia’s initiatives towards more hydro renewable has also played a large role in supporting the country’s clean energy initiatives. In early May 2017, the Canadian National Energy Board (NEB) released a report citing that 66 percent of Canadian electricity is now generated by renewable energy, up from 60 percent a decade prior. This places Canada as the fourth highest country in renewable energy production and second highest producer in hydroelectric power. The current breakdown for renewable production in Canada is as follows: 60 percent from hydro, 4.4 percent from wind, 1.9 percent from biomass and 0.5 percent from solar.

Distribution of Electricity Generating Stations in British Columbia can be viewed below in a map produced by Energy BC.